A chance to raise money for Arthritis research funding is happening Saturday Nov. 19 on the Centennial trail in downtown Spokane. The Jingle Bell Run/Walk is a 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) holiday jog held in many cities across the country. Every year, the Arthritis Foundation stops in Spokane to give the city a chance to participate in raising awareness for the disease.
Kelsey Birnbaum, director of special events for the Arthritis Foundation, said the foundation has been working on the upcoming Jingle Bell Run since last January. There are a total of 148 events all over the United States, 13 of them held in this region.
The Jingle Bell Run has put on the Spokane event for many years. From 1996-2006, the event was not held because the foundation had to close the Spokane office due to funding issues.
Therefore, Birnbaum manages the entire event from her office in Seattle. She has about 10 people in Spokane who act as her “eyes and ears” for the production. Eventually, she said they hope to raise enough money to get an office back in Spokane.
Because the event takes place the weekend before Thanksgiving, it is strongly encouraged that participants dress up in all the latest Thanksgiving and Christmas gear.
“The costumes are one of the best parts,” said Amanda Bevington, junior at Whitworth and previous Jingle Bell runner. “It really takes your mind off how hard you’re running.”
Birnbaum said in previous races she has seen groups come through as a Thanksgiving table, including everything from the turkey to the baser. Other popular choices of fun things to wear are Santa hats, elves and snowflakes costumes, wrapping up as gift boxes, wearing reindeer antlers or just sporting some fun stripped stockings.
There will even be a costume contest held by Kiss 98.1 from 8 a.m to 9 a.m. on race day. Prizes will be given away for best child, individual and group costumes. All first, second and third place winners could win gift certificates, Christmas CDs/DVDs or tickets to the downtown ice rink.
There is still time to sign up! Go downtown Nov. 18 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. to the third floor of River Front Square to register and pick up the packet, which includes a shirt, bib and bells to tie on your shoelaces. The cost is $25 untimed or $30 timed.
Or feel free to sign up on race day at River Front Square beginning at 7 a.m. for $30 untimed or $40 timed (the $5 increase is for participants who would like a timing chip to qualify them for Bloomsday).
Those who are timed begin the 5k at 8:55 a.m. and have until 10 a.m. to complete the race.
Untimed participatants start at 9 and have until 11 to complete the race.
There will also be prizes for the participants who choose to be timed. Prizes will be awarded to the top three males and females in each of the following categories: ages 12-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70+.
For those who want to get involved but don’t have the time or energy to run the race, feel free to come downtown on race day, just watch the race and cheer on the joggers.
“It’s definitely a great memory,” Bevington said. “It’s one of the things I did that I’ll always remember about college. So much fun!”
Donations are also being accepted by sponsoring a runner, a group or just sending money to the Arthritis Foundation.
Story by Jennifer Ingram